Any notion Hampden is a ‘neutral’ venue has been obliterated by the disgraceful ticket allocation to Aberdeen for the Viaplay Cup final.
The Dons’ request for a 50-50 split of tickets for the final on December 17 was rejected by the SPFL.
The SPFL confirmed the Dons will receive 19,500 tickets, with Rangers getting 25,000.
Let’s call it what it is – bias.
Rangers already had an advantage with a far superior budget and the fact the final was being played in their home city of Glasgow.
The SPFL then handed the Ibrox club an added advantage by allocating them 5,500 more tickets than the Dons.
Aberdeen should not have had to request a fair 50-50 split, it should be an automatic given that club’s receive an equal share for a final.
The English FA allocate an equal 50-50 ticket share to clubs for FA Cup finals.
That is the case regardless of the teams contesting the final.
In 2019 giants Manchester City faced Watford in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
Manchester City were Premier League champions in 2019 and had an annual home attendance of 54,130.
Watford finished mid-table of the top flight and had an average home gate of 20,016 – the second lowest in the Premier League.
Yet both clubs were allocated the same amount of tickets.
That is the way it should be.
But in the weird twilight zone of Scottish football there’s no 50-50 split.
Aberdeen requested time to sell half of Hampden, and if they didn’t achieve that then the remaining tickets would go to Rangers – with plenty of time to sell them.
The Dons’ proposal suggested they hold back five sections on the east side of the North Stand, selling them to Aberdeen supporters should demand require it.
That is a perfectly fair request for a final at a so-called ‘neutral’ venue – but it fell on deaf ears with the SPFL.
Aberdeen cup final ticket allocation shows bias
Aberdeen’s proposal was rejected by the SPFL who cited operational challenges and attendances at previous semi-finals and finals as the main reasons for the decision.
The decision-makers within the SPFL must have a short memory.
Aberdeen took a staggering 43,000 to the League Cup final against Inverness Caley Thistle at Parkhead in 2014.
That is more than double the tickets allocated to the Reds for this season’s Viaplay Cup final.
The argument the allocation is also based on semi-final ticket sales is also hollow.
Aberdeen’s semi-final against Hibs was a 5.15pm kick-off on a Saturday.
If it had been 3pm, the number of Dons supporters would likely have been higher.
The scales are also unfairly tipped in favour of Rangers, and Celtic, when playing at Hampden.
Aberdeen also asked the SPFL to draw for the end of the stadium each club gets.
Again to no avail.
There remains the ridiculously outdated tradition of there being a Rangers end at the national ‘neutral’ stadium.
Rangers are always allocated the West End of Hampden, with Celtic getting the East.
The reasons for this are antiquated and it is a tradition that needs to be eradicated.
Rangers and Celtic were allocated their own section of Hampden because they contested so many finals in the early years of Scottish football.
Rangers got the West because that is in the direction of Ibrox, Celtic the East as it is in the direction of Parkhead.
Yet they still retain that section when playing other teams, like Aberdeen.
There is no operational reason why they can’t switch sides.
Yet the SPFL opted to remain in the football dark ages.
So Aberdeen fans will be in South and East Stands with Rangers housed in the South, North and West Stands.
The ticket allocation and refusal to draw for an end is biased towards Rangers.
The only surprise is that the final isn’t being played at 5.15pm or later on the Sunday.